Chennai Super Kings bounced back from their first defeat of the Indian Premier League season with a 22-run win against Kings XI Punjab in Chennai on Saturday.
The trio of CSK’s spinners — Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja — choked the Punjab run-chase which faltered despite a century partnership between KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan. KXIP finished with 138/5 in 20 overs, which Singh recording tremendous figures of 2/17 in his 4 overs.
Faf du Plessis hit a fine half-century up the order while skipper MS Dhoni provided the late flourish to help CSK post a competitive 160/3 in 20 overs.
Opening the batting, du Plessis made 54 off 38 balls with the help of two fours and four hits over the fence and together with Shane Watson (26) added 56 runs for the first wicket after opting to bat.
But it was some late hitting by Dhoni (37 not out, 23 balls, 4X4s, 1X6) and Rayudu (21 not out, 15 balls, 1X6, 1X4) and their unbeaten 60-run fourth wicket partnership in 30 balls that helped the defending champions reachable a respectable total.
Thanks to Dhoni and Rayudu, CSK scored 52 runs in the last five overs after a rather quiet middle period.
Kings XI skipper R Ashwin was the best bowler for the visitors, picking up 3/23 from his four overs. He was on a hat-trick in the 14th over after getting half-centurion du Plessis and Suresh Raina off successive deliveries.
CSK got off to a blistering start as Du Plessis, playing his first match of the season and Watson, took the attack to the Kings XI bowlers. The two raised the team’s fifty in the sixth over (33 balls) providing CSK its best start in IPL 2019. While Watson was all muscle, delivering some hefty blows, du Plessis hit a six with a cheeky scoop off Mohammed Shami.
Taking his spot at the top of the order in place of a misfiring Rayudu, du Plessis showed intent from the start and hit two sixes, one each off Shami and Andrew Tye to set the tone for CSK’s innings.
Watson fell against the run of play, attempting a big shot off Kings XI captain Ashwin to be well caught by Sam Curran in the deep.
Raina (17), who came in at No.3, strung together an useful 44-run partnership with du Plessis, who kept the scoreboard ticking with a mix of attacking shots and judicious running between the wickets.
The partnership was broken when du Plessis perished while going for a big hit off Ashwin, caught at long-on by David Miller and then a ball later the off-spinner cleaned up Raina as the batsman went for a sweep.
CSK made three changes to their playing XI from the previous match, bringing in Du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh and Scott Kuggeleijn for Dwayne Bravo, Mohit Sharma and Shardul Thakur. Kings XI made two changes bringing in Chris Gayle and Andrew Tye for Hardus Viljoen and Mujeeb ur Rahman respectively.
Ultimately, the changes made by CSK proved to be match-defining. All three players brought in played telling roles.
The visitors scored at a low pace and required to score 26 off the last over, bowled by IPL debutant Kuggeleijn. The Kiwi paceman had no trouble defending those runs and also dismissed Sarfaraz.
Harbhajan was the best bowler for the hosts with the figures of 4-1-17-2. In a brilliant spell, he bowled a maiden and grabbed two wickets, including that of the ‘universal boss’ Chris Gayle.
Jadeja (4-0-24-0) and Tahir (4-0-20-0) also helped CSK put the brakes on the rival batsmen. They, along with Harbhajan, conceded only 61 runs in 12 overs even as the required run-rate kept mounting.
Kuggeleijn did not start very well, being hit for a six off his very first ball, but did well to finish with 2 for 37 in his 4 overs.
Harbhajan struck a huge blow to rivals by dismissing the Gayle, having him caught behind by M S Dhoni for 5 in the second over. Two balls later, he had the stylish Mayank Agarwal, caught by du Plessis near the boundary with the batsman going for a big hit. Harbhajan started off with a double wicket maiden to put Kings XI on the backfoot early.
In the 13th over, Rahul’s missed sweep saw Dhoni flick the ball on to the stumps but the bails didn’t come off though the LED lights lit up, ensuring the batsman survived despite being short of his crease.
The century partnership for the third wicket between Rahul and Sarfaraz went from productive to laboured as they consumed a lot of balls and stymied the Kings XI chase as the CSK bowlers kept things tight.